Autumn is a slippery season. Without much effort it slips away and after one weekend you realise that suddenly all the leaves are on the ground, not in the trees anymore. Japan has so many wonderful places to visit, from famous temples in Kyoto, to the brilliance of Oirase gorge up in northern Honshu, though many of them are packed solid with other foliage admirers. Heading out of the cities, to the nearest mountain for a hike can be a way to avoid the crowds and appreciate the best of the season.
Mt Nijo, or Nijosan (二上山）, is a twin peaked mountain, with the taller of the two, the Odake, reaching 517ｍ and the smaller, the Medake, reaching 474ｍ. Odake and Medake loosely translate to boy and girl mountains, and you can guess which one is the taller. (so typical!)
Paths at varying levels of maintenance crisscross the mountain. For our ascent we walked the road up to the park midway. While thigh achingly steep in places, there was at least some surface to walk on. For the descent, we went a different way, and scrambled over rocks, slipped carefully along on our hands and bum, and walked along the side of the stairs where the path was less eroded. Good workout!
Along the trails, as with many Japanese mountains, are the remains of holy sites. There is the grave of an ancient Emperor’s son、and the ruins of a temple called the Rokutanijiseki (鹿谷寺跡), with its large, beehive shaped pillar, and faint carvings still visible on the nearby rocks.
For those on foot, Nijosan is accessed by Kintestu’s Osaka line, stopping at either the Nijosan station or Taimadera station, close to one of Japan’s national heritage temples, also very beautiful in autumn. And in this slippery season, its best to try and double up whenever possible.